Ildjarn’s debut demo, Unknown Truths, is somewhat of a surprise for those familiar with his more famous releases. Rather than the quick, punchy black metal blitzes Ildjarn is known for, here he performs muddy and weighted pieces that lack the vision and originality most of his other works.
Like all Ildjarn recordings, Unknown Truths is pretty stripped down. However, whereas most Ildjarn releases have more of a sharp and grating rawness to them, the sound quality here is dense and gritty. The drums are in the forefront, but the guitars and vocals are still easily audible. The guitars don’t have the best tone and would benefit from a bit more power, but overall the sound quality is decent.
Unknown Truths consists of six slow to mid-tempo riff oriented pieces of black metal. The songs are grounded in big, lumbering riffs that unfortunately, fail to impress. The bulky hooks just aren’t that inspiring. This is ultimately the downfall of Unknown Truths. For a band as minimal as Ildjarn, the quality of the riffs is of the utmost importance. Usually Ildjarn delivers big time, but here there just isn’t much that is captivating. The other elements fail to pick up the slack. The drums are pretty simple, but not quite as monochromatic as most Ildjarn recordings. The vocals are the strength; they’re vicious and unrelenting. That said, they aren’t so captivating that they can carry the recording.
Each song is introduced with a brief ambient passage, which are kind of cool. They sound like excerpts from some obscure 70’s sci-fi film. There really isn’t any compositional connection between the ambient passages and the metal though; the ambient sections are just slapped on the front of black metal tracks with no attention paid to integrating these two disparate elements.
Obviously Ildjarn had not developed his own musical identity when he recorded this demo. One can see him playing with lo-fi production and minimalistic compositions, but he hasn’t found the correct formula for them yet. There’s also the ambient he would later excel at, but here it’s only a whimsical frill. Slightly interesting for those interested in tracking the early genesis of Ildjarn’s sound, but otherwise a pretty insignificant release.